Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that he fears another security conflict with India, after the two countries engaged last month in a dangerous escalation that fuelled “war hysteria” in New Delhi ahead of elections next month.
In an interview with the Financial Times on Tuesday, Khan said tensions were still high even after the crisis over a militant suicide attack in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) had eased with the release of the Indian pilot, who was captured by Pakistani forces. “I’m still apprehensive before the elections, I feel that something could happen,” he said.
He described India as gripped with “war hysteria” following the most serious conflict between the neighbours in decades. “When Pulwama happened I felt that Modi’s government used that to build this war hysteria,” Khan told the Financial Times.
“The Indian public should realise that this is all for winning the elections, it’s nothing to do with the real issues of the subcontinent,” he said. He denied that Pakistan was involved in the Pulwama attack, stressing that a crackdown had been launched against militant groups.
The prime minister insisted that there was no place for terrorists in “new” Pakistan. “We’re already cracking down on them, we’re already dismantling the whole set up,” he told the newspaper. “What is happening right now has never happened before in Pakistan”.
“We cannot take the stance any more where you have these armed groups in our country,” he said. “We can’t afford being blamed for any terrorist activity, like Pulwama, like what happened.”
For the Pulwama attack, Khan blamed Modi’s “anti-Muslim” government and its heavy-handed policies in IoK. “The boy who blew himself up, the 19-year-old boy, was a Kashmiri-Indian boy. His parents said how he was radicalised by some abuse by the security force,” he said. “So it was an Indian boy, Indian operation, Indian car, Indian explosive. Why was Pakistan blamed?